Date of Conferral





Public Health


Jeanne Connors


Malaria is one of the leading causes of death for children and women in Sierra Leone. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore and understand the lived experiences of women from the rural areas of Sierra Leone regarding malaria. A purposive sample of Krio women from the western rural area, aged 21-55 years, spoke English, and had taken care of someone with malaria described their perceptions and lived experiences with the disease in face-to-face interviews. The research questions were based on the health belief model and focused on knowledge, beliefs, and perceptions about malaria prevention and treatment. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to identify themes through coding. The findings indicated that (a) lack of doctors, medicines, and medical supplies at government clinics discourages malaria victims from visiting those clinics; (b) the use of traditional herbs is prevalent because of their effectiveness, affordability, easy access, and lack of side effects; (c) women were not aware of recommended comprehensive malaria control measures, which include the continuous use of durable insecticide nets, residual spraying, case management, and artemisinin-based therapy. The results also show that (a) pregnant women should not take prescribed medications to prevent or treat malaria because they harm the fetus, and (b) traditional herbs may be taken with Western medicines to treat severe malaria. Recommendations include: that the government evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of its current malaria programs in local clinics, and that future studies be undertaken to identify antimalarial properties in commonly accepted local herbs. Changes in policies and practices relating to the prevention and treatment of malaria will serve as building blocks for positive social change to reduce the malaria incidence rate in Sierra Leone.